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Control Panel → Display can be used to configure the system to run the display wizard the next time the system boots. This allows you to reconfigure your video driver and display settings.

If you click this icon in Control Panel, you will receive the message shown in Figure 8.12a.

Figure 8.12a: Display Wizard Will Run at Next Boot

Select “Yes” which will prompt for your password. You should then save your work and reboot the system.

Alternately, you can use the boot menu to start the display wizard. As soon as the system starts to boot, press the left Shift button to access the GRUB boot menu. Unless you are dual booting or have configured boot environments, there will be one entry named "PC-BSD (default) in the boot menu. Press enter and select "Run the Display Wizard" from the menu.

Regardless of whether you started the Display Wizard from Control Panel or from the boot menu, it will finish booting the system and then prompt you to confirm the resolution if it finds an optimal one. To configure a different resolution, click “No” to access the display wizard, shown in Figure 8.12b.
Figure 8.12b: Display Settings Wizard

This screen can be used to select the desired screen resolution, color depth, and video driver. If you select the "vesa" driver, it will always work but will provide sub-optimal performance. Click on the drop-down menu to select the driver that most closely matches your video card name.

WARNING If you have an NVIDIA card, double-check that the NVIDIA driver is installed in Control Panel → Package Manager → Hardware-Drivers and install it if it is not already installed.

You can also use the drop-down menus to change the screen resolution and color depth values. If the value you desire is not listed, it may be that the selected driver does not support that resolution or depth.

Advanced users can select their monitor's horizontal sync and vertical refresh rate in the "Advanced" tab, seen in Figure 8.12c:

Figure 8.12c: Advanced Tab of Display Settings

Use caution and refer to your monitor's documentation if you make any changes here. If you are not sure what you are doing, leave the default values as-is.

If your computer is connected to two monitors, check the box "Enable Dual-Head support".

When you are finished, click the "Apply" button for your settings to be tested. If anything goes wrong during testing, you should be taken back to the "Display Settings" screen so that you can try another setting. Once you are satisfied with the settings, click "Yes" when prompted to accept them.

Desktop Effects and Compositing

To prevent problems with video cards that do not support them, desktop effects (used by KDE) and display compositing (used by XFCE) are disabled by default. You can change this default if your video card supports desktop effects.

To enable desktop effects while logged into KDE, click FavoritesSystem SettingsDesktop Effects to access the configuration screen shown in Figure 8.12d. Check the box "Enable desktop effects at startup". You can use the "All Effects" tab to get more information about each possible effect and to enable the effects that interest you.

Figure 8.12d: Enabling Desktop Effects in KDE

To enable display compositing while logged into XFCE, go to Settings ➜ Window Manager Tweaks ➜ Compositor. In the screen shown in Figure 8.12e, check the “Enable display compositing” box to enable the compositing options.

Figure 8.12e: Enabling Compositing in XFCE


If you are having problems with your display settings and would like to manually edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf or run Xorg --config, first tell the PC-BSD® system to not automatically start X. To do so, add this temporary line to /etc/rc.conf, then reboot the system:


The system will reboot to a login prompt. After logging in, try the instructions in the FreeBSD Handbook[1] to manually configure and test Xorg. Once you have a configuration that works for you, save it to /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Then, remove that temporary line from /etc/rc.conf and start PCDM:

service pcdm start

If your graphics white-out after a suspend or resume, try running this command as the superuser:

sysctl hw.acpi.reset_video=1

If that fixes the problem, carefully add this line to /etc/sysctl.conf:


If the monitor goes blank and does not come back, try running this command as your regular user account:

xset -dpms

If that fixes the problem, add that line to the .xprofile file in your home directory.


  1. http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/x-config.html
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